To say I was dumbstruck as I rounded the corner heading to the conference room and saw Eric Northman would be putting it mildly. I’d seen him plenty of times in pictures in magazines and online, but they didn’t do him justice. He was incredibly tall and lean. He was wearing a gray suit with a blue shirt that was the exact same color as his eyes and a matching tie. It must’ve been tailor made because it clung to his body in all of the right ways. When I finally looked into his eyes I was mortified to see him looking back at me with a lustful gaze. I immediately dropped my eyes to the floor and practically ran into the conference room in embarrassment at being caught ogling him.
What was I doing? I’m a married woman. No matter what problems Bill and I may have it wouldn’t excuse acting out on all of the fantasies that popped into my head the moment I saw him. I should know better anyway. His reputation with women is legendary and I’m sure that smoldering look of his has been used on plenty of them. If I were to give in to that, I would just be another one of many.
When he walked into the room I made myself focus strictly on Mr. Northman. He gave the expected “Welcome my son into the ranks” speech and when we began to clap I looked over to see him looking at me. I felt a flutter in my chest looking into his eyes again but he thankfully stood up and looked around to everyone else, breaking me from his temporary spell. He began to speak and I couldn’t help focusing on his lips as they moved. They looked soft and his bottom lip was begging to be sucked in between my teeth.
Ugh! FOCUS STACKHOUSE! I shook the thoughts from my head and concentrated on what he was saying. He was talking about MY proposal and taking credit for it! I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. I looked over at Mr. Northman and saw him beaming with pride at his liar of a son! He must have memorized my entire proposal because he was detailing it practically verbatim. Son of a bitch! I didn’t know who to hate more, Mr. Northman or his son, so I glared at them equally.
I couldn’t stop the gasp from leaving my lips when Mr. Northman announced he would be putting his son in the VP position that I had earned. I was crushed inside. Mr. Northman hadn’t said the words, but he’d definitely insinuated that the position was mine. Thinking that he had so much confidence in me had boosted my self esteem to the point where I seriously started thinking of ending my relationship with Bill. But now? Maybe all I WAS good for was being a dutiful wife and future mother.
As the meeting drew to a close I could feel my calm façade crumbling and the traitorous tears filling my eyes. I stood with the others and hoped to get out of there quickly as I felt them begin to fall when Mr. Northman asked me to stay behind. I willed them to stop as I turned to face the two of them but I couldn’t hide the streaks that had already made their way down my face.
When Mr. Northman told me Eric had pitched the same proposal as mine I had to clamp down on the ‘HA!’ that was trying to escape my throat. Did they really think I’d believe that? I doubted Eric could do a simple math equation more complicated than keeping track while playing quarters in a frat house much less research and track the financial trends of an investment firm. From everything I’ve read he’s done nothing but flit all over the world in one seemingly endless party.
I was in total shock when I was offered the position of a glorified flunky to Eric. The rational side of my brain kicked in before I could tell them to shove it where the sun doesn’t shine knowing that I should think about it all before acting out. All I could do was nod my acceptance in fear of the slew of curse words I was biting back being able to escape.
But when Eric feigned interest in me being upset I felt my temper rise again and snapped at him. He didn’t even have the decency to apologize for stealing my work! And then to accuse me of sleeping with his father? I don’t think I’d ever met a bigger egotistical jerk than him. Just because HE’S a whore, everyone else must be too?
I couldn’t wait until I was finally away from him. I strode to my office and slammed the door tossing the plants I’d brought in with me for my, now HIS, new office into the trash. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to work for him. He was somehow able to bring out the worst in me and at the same time just looking at him made me feel like I was on fire. I’d have to think long and hard about whether or not I should just resign like Bill wanted me to. At least with him I knew what I was in for.
When I got home that night Bill informed me that the fertility specialist had called and we had an appointment to get the test results back on Monday morning at 10. He gave me a look that told me he wasn’t too thrilled that I was leaving for a week so I was surprised when he didn’t try to convince me not to go as he had done before. When he’d been unsuccessful in the past he always made it a point to clear his schedule and come with me as if he couldn’t trust me to go alone even though I had never given him a reason not to. His position on the town council wasn’t a full time job so he still worked at his father’s law firm taking whatever cases he felt would be beneficial to him in terms of political clout. He had seemed distracted all weekend but I attributed it to the upcoming appointment on Monday morning. I certainly wasn’t going to question why he wasn’t giving me a hard time and a thought crept into the back of my mind that maybe a part of me wanted to get to know Eric better. Then I thought of what a jerk he was and that pushed the more lustful thoughts out of my head.
As we sat in the doctor’s office waiting for him to come in I thought about everything that was going on. I knew Bill wanted children but he really wanted them for all of the wrong reasons. Would I be able bring a child into the world knowing that? Would I be able to love the child unconditionally or would I resent it because I don’t think I’m ready yet? Would Bill be willing to make the same sacrifices he was asking of me in giving up my career to be a stay at home parent?
Would I repeat the cycle and treat it as my own mother treated me? I knew she was never happy with her ‘station’ in life and always wanted more of everything. The grass was always greener in her eyes so she tried to live vicariously through me.
Turning to him I asked, “Do you love me?” I wasn’t sure if I loved him anymore so I thought it was only fair to find out how he felt.
He looked at me and his first expression seemed to be one of a kid caught with their hand in the cookie jar before it changed to indifference. “Why would you ask such an asinine question? I married you didn’t I?”
“We’re here to see if we can be parents so I’d like an honest answer from you before we go ahead with anything the doctor says. You’re expecting me to give up my career that I’ve worked really hard for to raise your children and be the dutiful wife. Would you do the same for me?” I already knew the answer but I wanted to hear him say it. He didn’t disappoint.
His nostrils flared as his anger rose when he said, “You are being ridiculous. You’ve know all along what our plan was. It makes no difference whether or not I would do the same thing because it’s not part of the plan.” The doctor walked in before he could say any more.
I’m guessing the tension was palpable in the room because the doctor looked apprehensive before he spoke. “Mrs. Compton, the blood work we had performed indicates that you have a high prolactin level. This is most commonly caused by a micro adenoma of the pituitary gland. Basically it’s a small benign tumor on your pituitary gland and it affects the hormones that signal your eggs to mature and ovulate. I see here in your medical history that you’ve had a very irregular menstrual cycle since puberty except when you were on birth control pills which would’ve chemically induced your body to have your monthly cycle. I’d like to schedule you for an MRI of your brain and then we can go from there.”
I was too stunned to say anything at first. I guess Bill wasn’t.
“Is there any way to fix her?” he asked.
The doctor shot a glare at Bill and responded, “She’s not broken Mr. Compton.” Looking back at me the doctor continued, “If we can confirm this is indeed what’s going on it IS treatable. Many times the tumor more or less burns itself out and corrects the problem on its own over time, but more than likely you’ll need medical intervention in order to be able to conceive. We’ll get an MRI now and another one in six months to gauge whether or not it’s grown in size. There are drugs you can take to help alter the effects of the tumor so you would have a better chance of getting pregnant, or you could try IVF if the drugs aren’t enough. Surgery would be a last result because of the pituitary gland being located in the center of your brain. The only way to access it would be to enter through your nasal passages and it can be risky. But I don’t want us to get ahead of ourselves. Let’s just wait and see what the MRI shows us.”
I had to know. “Are you saying there’s a chance I might never be able to have a child on my own? What are my odds of conceiving?”
His eyes softened when he said, “Nothing in life is guaranteed. Your odds of conceiving without help are slim to none, but please try not to worry about it for right now. We’ll have a better idea of what’s going on after we get your MRI results back.”
He ushered us out of his office and before we left I had an appointment scheduled for the following week for the MRI. Bill was uncharacteristically quiet as we walked to the parking lot. We had each driven there on our own since he would be going to his office and I was headed for the private airstrip that housed the company’s jet. When it appeared he was going to leave without saying a word I said, “I’ll call you once we land.”
When he turned his face towards mine his expression was a mixture of anger and pity. “Are you happy now?” he spat out. He got into his car without saying another word and drove away.
I couldn’t stop the tears from falling as I drove to the airstrip. I’d never felt so alone. I hadn’t really wanted a child right now, but after being told that I might not be able to have one at all made me feel so empty inside. A part of me felt like I wasn’t a whole woman. As Neanderthal as it sounds, women were on this earth to procreate. I know that’s not ALL we’re here for and not everyone is meant to be a mother, but it’s what we do. It’s what they do my hateful inner voice chimed in.
I got to the airstrip at 11:45 and took the pack of tissues out of my car and stuck them into my purse. I really didn’t want to spend the next 20 hours stuck on a plane with Eric Northman right now. I was always nervous flying anyway, but with everything on top of it I didn’t have to strength to raise my shields and pull my big girl panties up. I just wanted to curl into a ball and cry.
After drying my tears and fixing my make-up I got my bag and headed for the plane. I’d never flown on it before and I was thankfully distracted by the luxuriousness of it. It had several leather captain’s chairs that appeared to swivel so you could face the other passengers as well as a leather couch in the center of the compartment and additional captain’s chairs in the rear. I could make out a small galley in the back of the plane and another door that I assumed was the bathroom.
I was met by a perky blond flight attendant that took my bag and stowed it in the rear of the plane. She explained that we would be stopping briefly at LAX to top off the fuel tanks before the 15 hour flight to Sydney and then asked if I’d like anything to drink. When I declined she said that she would be preparing a light meal for us after we were in the air and if I changed my mind to let her know. I chose to sit in one of the captain’s chairs towards the front of the plane hoping that Eric would sit in the back. I took a book out of my bag and opened it up. I wanted to lose myself for a little while in the story but while my eyes stared at the words my brain was busy cycling through everything the doctor had said.
When I felt the need to shift in my seat I noticed that I was still on the first page of the book. I checked my watch and saw that it was already 12:30 and we still hadn’t left. I looked around saw Eric hadn’t come on board yet. My emotional roller coaster climbed straight up to anger.
Isn’t it bad enough that his daddy put him into a job that he’s nowhere near qualified for? He doesn’t even have the decency to show up on time? Is THIS what I can expect from him? I refuse to be his goddamn keeper. I’ll be damned if he thinks I’m going to run around after him making sure he’s on time for his appointments or any other stupid thing he expects me to do. God help him if he thinks I’ll be getting his coffee or picking up his dry cleaning for him.
I heard someone stomping up the stairs into the jet. As soon as he came into view I felt my breath hitch in my throat. He was wearing a tight t-shirt that showed every sculpted muscle underneath it and low slung jeans with black motorcycle boots. The t-shirt had ridden up in the front and a hint of blond hair on his abdomen and a well defined V trailing downward was on display. When my eyes travelled up to his face the glare in his eyes brought my anger right back. Screw him! He has no right to be mad at ME!
“Nice of you to FINALLY show up! I guess you feel like you don’t have to be on time since it’s daddy’s plane.”
I do believe if looks could kill I’d be dead right now based on the look he was giving me. Before he could say anything the flight attendant bounced up to him, and yes she did bounce, saying “Welcome aboard Mr. Northman.” Reaching for his bag she said, “Let me take this for you. Is there anything I can get you?”
It figures. There was no mistaking that she meant anything. He just shook his head and followed her towards the back of the plane. I didn’t bother to turn around to see where they went because just a moment later she was back in front of me handing me the obligatory safety card indicating where all of the emergency items were kept and then she zipped back to the rear of the plane. I’m sure she probably buckled Mr. High and Mighty in herself. He probably even expected someone to do that for him. Jerk!
I took a cursory glance at the card and before I could think of any more hateful thoughts the door was closed and the plane started taxiing towards the runway. This was the part I hated the most as my white knuckles would attest to. Well this and landing. I was okay once we were in the air, but it was always a tense few minutes at the start and end of every flight.
I tried my best to read for a little while but my thoughts kept wandering between what I learned this morning and what Eric was doing in the back of the plane. I had to keep myself from turning to look at him and then would chastise myself for even thinking about him. When I heard the bouncy blonde giggling in the back my decision to not turn around was made for me. I didn’t want to see whatever it was he was doing to make her giggle.
I did my best to immerse myself in the trashy romance novel I had brought along and the flight attendant I had named “Bimbo” brought me a snack and a bottle of water. After a tense (for me) landing and subsequent takeoff from LAX I thankfully drifted off to sleep.
I was startled awake when the plane hit turbulence and it bounced around in the sky. The pilot came on telling us to make sure we were fastened into our seats and I was grateful that I hadn’t removed the seatbelt before I went to sleep. The turbulence caused the plane to jump up and down in the sky and I was starting to feel sick when I heard one of the engines sputter to a stop. The plane started veering downward and the captain was yelling for everyone to assume crash landing positions. I immediately tried to recall where everything was on that damn safety card but my mind was a complete blank. I could feel the panic rise in my chest and when I turned to look back at Eric I didn’t see him anywhere. I faced forward once more and stuck my head between my knees thinking What are the odds this day could get any worse? Then the pilot yelled out, “BRACE YOURSELVES!”